Friday, August 22, 2008

An easy way to get Broadcom wireless working in Ubuntu 8.04

First things first, I am by no means a linux guru, in fact I don't even really qualify as a 'Nix geek! The extent of my systems knowledge with Linux is working with the gui in Ubuntu, and the occasional sudo apt-get or something of the sort. I can work my way around a Windows install with little trouble, but I'm still learning the basics when it comes to Linux OSes. So some true 'Nix geeks might even see this and tell me that there are many things which I think I understand that I really don't. I wouldn't be surprised in the least bit! If you're a 'Nix geek and you're reading this, tell me where I'm off track, cause I don't know any better! It's probably my fault for trying to think of everything in terms of their Windows counterparts anyway!

So I inherited this laptop that I'm using right now, it's a HP Compaq nx6110. 1.8ghz Pentium M, 1GB RAM, base model machine but it serves my web-browsing purposes well! I decided to load Ubuntu on it when I got it a few months ago, as an extension of my experimenting with Ubuntu on my desktop, now I have a computer to do networking with! I will make no claims to this working on any other pc or hardware. Running lspci on my machine shows this line for the wireless hardware:

02:04.0 Network controller: Broadcom Corporation BCM4306 802.11b/g Wireless LAN Controller (rev 03)

So anyway, the first time I installed Ubuntu on here, I did lots of reading on how to get the wireless to work, things like ndiswrapper and bc43wcutter and the like. Very little of it made sense to me, and so I just chose a how-to instructional document and started working it. About 1/3 of the way into that documents process Ubuntu suddenly indicated that it could see my wireless, could find the non-free drivers for it, and was ready to install my wireless. Cool! So I, like any good geek would do, said screw TFM and let's see what this does! Sure enough, Ubuntu/Synaptic took care of downloading my wireless drivers, and set them up with no hitch! Sweet. Of course, the problem was, I had no idea what I had done that had suddenly allowed Ubuntu to finish the job for me. All I could remember was that it seemed the last thing I had done was enable the Multiverse repository of non-free Ubuntu/Linux software. But since everything worked right, I didn't worry too much about it!

I inherited this computer with a case of Alzheimer's, it had a "bad" hard drive. Windows/NTFS were reporting all sorts of faulty sectors and the like, and WinXP was not even able to install on it anymore. Funny, Ubuntu and it's file system (which ever it is, I'm not even sure...) seemed to have no problems with it, for a while. It finally but the dust the other day, and so I was in the spot of having to reinstall Ubuntu, and thus re-setup my wireless.

Well I remembered that there seemed to be a connection with the Multiverse repository, so I went about trying to enable that... and it seemed it already was.

This is where I started to get lucky. I got annoyed and grabbed an ethernet cable, as I would need to plug in before I could download the driver anyway, and did some quick browsing. I came across a page that required flash, which I had not yet installed. I clicked on the missing plug indication, which then asks you which flash player you would like to use. I selected 'Gnash' and the next thing Ubuntu did was ask me if I wanted to enable the repository 'Universe'. Well, yes, yes I do. And in fact I also want to enable Multiverse. So I canceled the Gnash installation and went back to the plugin selector to see if Adobe Flash was hosted in the multivers... It was! So after installing Gnash, I rebooted. I don't know if this is necessary, but the first time I installed Ubuntu prompted me to install wireless drivers after I rebooted. This time it did not do that. However when I went into Hardware Drivers, there was now the option to enable the Broadcom wireless driver. It finished the install on it's own like the first time, and I am now tether-free! Woohoo!

Allright, so here it is step-by-step. If on the offchance anybody else out there tries this, post back in the comments whether it worked, and what system you're running. The line from the lspci command that includes your wireless hardware would be most helpful.

1. Connect via Ethernet Cable on fresh install
2. Browse to a site that includes Flash
3. Tell Firefox to install the missing plugins, and the select Adobe Flash
4. Select 'Yes' to enable the Multiverse Repository, finish installing Flash (You might be able to cancel it, I don't see why not)
5. Reboot (I don't know if this is necessary, try it without and let us know!)
6. Select 'Hardware Drivers' on the System>Administration menu
7. Hopefully the driver will appear as available, if so click to enable it
8. B43wcutter should install, follow it's prompts including saying yes to something about accessing firmware
9. Enjoy wireless internet!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Apprentice is a word I've always liked the sound of. It brings to my mind images of the young blacksmith or carpenter in the fantasy days of old, apprenticed to the master, working long and hard to become an expert in his own right. I've read many a story where the apprentice was able to overcome insurmountable odds to beat the antagonist and save the day.

And now I'm going to get to be one! Except... I'm apprenticing with a Brewer!! Specifically, Kim Kowalski of Mountain Town Station and Mt Pleasant Brewing Co. I'll be moving to Mount Pleasant in about 2 months, and working pro bono for the first six months. Fortunately, I should be able to cover my living expenses while I do this, and will probably get a part time job so I'm not completely broke all the time!

I owe Scott Isham of Harper's a BIG thank you for all of this! I went and brewed with Scott back almost a month ago, after talking to him at the Master Brewers Association Summer Social Picnic and asking if I could come and join him for a day. I made it pretty clear that I was wanting to get into the brewing industry. I asked him for advice about how to proceed, and he gave me very good advice and gave me some names of people to contact.

A week and a half or so later, Scott called me and mentioned that he had just gotten off the phone with his friend Kim at Mountain Town Station, and Kim was saying that he was getting behind and very busy. Scott told me I should call Kim and ask if I could brew with him. So I immediately called Kim, and set up a day to brew with him the next week. We were at the brewery (as opposed to the brewpub) and we made their stout and labeled a bunch of bottles. I had a blast, and got along well with Kim and his Assistant Brewer, Brad. I decided to make sure I got back again.

So I had the day off today, and what I had planned didn't need to happen anymore. So I called Kim and asked if he would like for me to come up and brew with him again, and he said yes. So I went off to Mt Pleasant and this time worked in the brewpub, which is kind of neat since it's on three levels and has a restaurant. We brewed Oktoberfest, and transferred some Stout from a fermenter to a serving vessel.

So I asked Kim, if he would be up for taking on a new apprentice sometime soon. Brad started this way, apprenticed with Kim for no money for a while and then was hired in full time as an assistant brewer, so I knew the precedence was there. Kim said he would be happy to take me on as apprentice!

I am so totally stoked about this! Getting into the brewing industry is tough. It's kind of a "good ol'boy" industry, lots of friends and the like. After talking to some brewers, it seems that starting out with some good brewing based education is maybe not the best bet. A brewery/brewer is not likely to want to hire you if you've not brewed somewhere before and have some good experience. This doesn't mean some education is out of the question, in fact I think an associate degree in Microbiology might be a good idea, or maybe I'll do the Siebel courses on Germany or something. Either way, I'll work in Mt Pleasant for a while, at least two years and hopefully more. The brewery is growing quickly, so hopefully this will be a good opportunity to grow with it. Then maybe in five years or so I can try and work someplace like Bell's or Dogfish Head.

Well, I'm sure I'll have more to follow, but as it is I need to go to bed...